Firstly, I guess it’s important to note I don’t work in (traditional) PR – I work in Digital PR, aka Outreach. It’s the side that lends itself to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), works on building a brand’s awareness online and helps get them in front of the ‘right’ people’s eyes. It’s fast-paced and mostly unpredictable. Clients can be lovely and challenging. I’ve been doing this for a few years, and I’m convinced there are three types of clients:
- The ones who don’t understand what you do, or how you do it. It doesn’t matter how many times you explain to them; they don’t think it what you do is needed because they can’t see the value.
- The clients who don’t understand it, but try. They love what you do, can see some results of your work, and what to keep going anyway. Bless their souls; they really try to understand.
- Finally, the ones who get it. They don’t need explanations about the purpose of your role to them.
I’ve had all three, and let me tell you it’s been a wild ride, but I’m so not ready to trade this in.
How did I get here?
I’m frequently asked how I got into Digital PR by people studying or looking for a way into the industry. The truth is there’s no clear path on how to start out.
I fell into this.
I did a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing, and really had my heart set on a career in journalism. After finishing my BA, I was looking for internships and work experience – literally anything for a way into a junior role at a glossy magazine. The problem was, it was at a time where print media was suffering. Blogs were just starting to come into their own, and the journalism industry was a difficult one to casually stroll into as a fresh out of uni grad with next to no experience.
So, I did admin temp work for a year until a grad fair around, from which I secured an interview and a job doing Content Marketing, SEO Content Writing and Blogger Outreach. After nearly two years, I was tired of the role that I could do with my eyes closed, and as if the universe heard me there were revenue cuts that resulted in a few of us being made redundant.
I was lucky enough to be helping out with a blogger network, and working on my own blog, when I connected with a lovely recruiter, who hooked me up with an interview for a Junior Digital PR & Outreach Exec role in an agency. And, I’ve been going ever since.
What about other people?
Some friends I’ve made along the way started working in an agency straight out of college or studied marketing or public relations and the like. Others have interned, got a foot in the door and worked their way up.
Things that helped me along the way
1) Starting a blog.
I honestly cannot stress this enough. I started mine towards the end of my time at uni – the images were awful, the layout was poor, but helped get my first “career role” as a content writer. Further down the line, I also had the chance to secure a two-week PR internship with a brand who reached out to me to collaborate on blog content. Having a blog gives you a place to showcase your writing, your passions and yourself, while you start building those relationships from the other side of the coin.
2) Keeping LinkedIn up to date.
I feel like this is a given, but I’ve found out that someone I worked with earlier this year doesn’t have LinkedIn… I still can’t quite process this…
Add in your skills, ask lecturers to write you a reference and add (practical) modules as experience. For example, I did a journalism module that meant I was a sub-editor for a magazine I created as group work – at the end of the day, experience is experience.
Connect with people in the industry! Everyone shares amazing examples, their experiences and useful tips; and eventually, connect with recruiters who can help you get your foot in a door somewhere. On the odd occasion, you might find a connection mentions their company is looking for someone too!
3) Staying on top of social media.
I can tell you for a fact your employer will Google you, so make sure you manage your personal brand. Admittedly, I have let my own socials slip quite a lot in recent months – 2020 has been my least motivating year on record) – but as someone who wants to work in an industry that focuses on brand reputation, it’s essential to manage your own. Yes, you need a digital footprint, and you need one that represents you.